Surigao miners call for appointment of MGB regional director

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 July) ­– The Chamber of Mines of Caraga is calling on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to appoint a regional director for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, saying they have been losing money because of the delay of processing of documents.

If no regional director can be installed, the chamber pleaded that former regional director Roger A. de Dios, who was earlier relieved after allegedly disobeying the verbal order of his boss, be reinstated.

Dulmar Raagas, chamber president, said the whole industry in Caraga’s five provinces, particularly in Surigao del Norte considered as the country’s mining hub, are affected by the absence of an MGB regional director.

In a press conference Thursday, Raagas said they are incurring losses because of the delay of documents like the Ore Transport Permit and Mineral Ore Export Permit, which now takes more than two weeks to process because the MGB central office has to act on these instead of the regional office.

Raagas stressed that some companies were forced to pay the demurrage for the container ship in the amount of US$10,000 per day because of the delay of the documents.

He said the central office will always assign a caretaker in the regional office but the same could not issue those permits and other documents because only the regional director can do so.

“I think it is a clear bureaucratic red tape on the part of the MGB, which President Aquino doesn’t like,” he opined.

Raagas said the mining companies operating in the nickel mining areas are adversely affected.

“Even the Taganito high-pressure acid leach plant in Claver town, which started commissioning for the preparation of commercial production in September, is affected in getting permits needed for the operations,” he revealed.

He said the nickel mining companies are facing another problem with the plummeting price of nickel in the world market, which is now pegged at US$6.26 per pound. Last year, Raagas said, price range was from $9 to $10.

Though the Chamber of Mines of Caraga has not issued a resolution yet, he said the group will come up with it in a couple of days, to be addressed to President Aquino and Secretary Paje.

Raagas said this problem cropped up when De Dios was relieved as regional director, and thus nobody in the regional office could issue Ore Transport Permit and Mineral Ore Export Permit.

De Dios has claimed that his relief was illegal, saying there was no due process. He has filed a case before the Office of the Ombudsman for graph and corrupt practices against MGB Director Leo L. Jasareno.

He also filed before the Civil Service Commission his reinstatement as regional director.